Patrick Terminals has today advised that there will be a three-day hearing at the Fair Work Commission to determine whether the current Patrick Enterprise Bargaining Agreement can be terminated.
In a statement from Patrick today, the terminal operator noted that it is “evident that the current agreement was no longer fit for purpose”.
The stevedore pointed to a number of operational restrictions within the current agreement. Removal of the restrictions would enable Patrick Terminals to:
- recruit additional employees without the need for agreement from the union
- determine the composition of the workforce to best meet the operation requirements Patrick Terminals
- select employees for training and promotion based on merit and operational rather than union dictated selection criteria that focus on the length of service only
- remove complex union driven requirements regarding ‘order of pick’ which restrict Patrick allocating to meet operational needs that arise from fluctuating volumes and shipping schedules
- remove union vetos on headcount
- remove union restrictions on the implementation of new technologies and upgrades
Patrick Terminals has given an undertaking that pay rates and rosters for employees will remain unchanged for a period of six months following any decision to terminate an agreement so as to minimise any disruption to customers. The company also acknowledged the patience and support of its customers.
“We are committed to supporting Australia’s economic recovery by providing an efficient and effective supply chain,” the terminal operator concluded.
Patrick has been meeting with the union since February 2020 and the two parties have met more than 70 times. Over the period, the waterfront union has engaged in aggressive strike action and they have clearly had no regard for Australian families which depend upon smoothly working supply chains so they can buy food, medicines and everyday household goods.
With about 1-in-5 Australian jobs dependent upon international trade, the union – for all its rhetoric about fighting for workers – clearly doesn’t care about Australian workers at all. And this at a time of the twin COVID-induced public health and economic crises.
And it’s not like the waterfront workers are treated badly. The average wharfie makes about AUD$161,800 a year and works for about nine months of the year. By way of comparison, the median wage for Australian adult office workers is about AUD$51,000 and they work about 11 months of the year.
That’s right – difference in pay between wharfies and office workers is about 104% in favour of wharfies1 and who also work about two months than other Australians. Add to that a generous offer from Patrick Terminals of:
- 2.5% year-on-year pay increase for four years
- guaranteed job security and no forced redundancies
- a commitment to preserving jobs with a focus on permanent roles
- caps on the usage of casual labour
… and it’s clear that the union doesn’t have a real cause to be causing so much trouble for ordinary Australians.
“This is not about workers’ rights; wharfies are very highly paid and they get far more leave than most workers. Australia is plagued with ongoing industrial action. It seems that as soon as one stops, another starts.
“Ultimately, this industrial action by the union hurts the Australian economy, which means it hurts everyday Australians. Industrial action jeopardises jobs and hurts our importers and exporters. It’s about time that there is a sustainable solution to these frequent, repeated and ongoing disputes on the waterfront.
There needs to be some controls so that waterfront disputes are sensibly resolved in a speedy timeframe. Meanwhile, the union should just stop its insensitive and reckless campaign and let the terminal operators get back to doing what they do best, which is carrying out stevedoring operations. That can only be to the benefit of all Australians, no matter how far they live from the sea,” said Shipping Australia CEO, Melwyn Noronha.
1. Percent difference is calculated as (((value 1-value 2) / ((v1+v2)/2)) x100). For the avoidance of doubt and confusion, “percent difference” is not calculated the same way as “percent increase”, which is ((new value – old value) / old value) x 100).